Indonesian artificial intelligence startup PT Jualan Online Indonesia today officially launched its chatbot service Bang Joni in Jakarta.
The messenger bot named Bang Joni, which translates to brother Joni in the Jakarta dialect, is available exclusively on the LINE Messenger in order to “make life easier for lazy people”.
The service enables users to book airline and intercity bus tickets, call an Uber, check the weather, translate a word, and even top-up phone credits. Bang Joni’s functions even extend to remind users of their frequent transaction.
The service went live in late 2015, having partnered with leading brands such as Uber, Skyscanner, Ticket.com, X-Trans, Tomato, and Locket.com. Since its inception, Bang Joni has accumulated 400,000 users and assisted 37,224 transactions by April 2017.
Previously, the startup had raised a US$2 million Series A round from an undisclosed local investor, which it used to expand the business.
Bang Joni is not the first nor the only startup in Indonesia that is offering B2C chatbox as a service, there are other players in the sector like HeloDiana and YesBoss.
However, the journey has been difficult for startups in the sector. HeloDiana ceased its services in April 2016 reportedly due to lack of funding, while YesBoss had to close its B2C service and pivoted into B2B with the launch of Kata.ai.
According to Harahap, what will drive Bang Joni to succeed are revenue and innovation, “the secret is to keep innovating, which is why we released the second version of the chatbox, that is more user-friendly and smarter,” the CEO of Bang Joni, Diatce Harahap said.
Part of Bang Joni’s strength, Harahap further added, also lies in the chat bot’s ability to read and respond in Indonesian slang words, which can be very different from the formal Indonesian language.
“Nobody chats in formal language. This gives us its own unique as nobody speaks Indonesian in its proper sentence structure. It’s easier with English,” Harahap explained.
For the year 2017, Bang Joni hinted that there will be upcoming new features such as adding the ability to detect local Indonesian dialects like Javanese and Sudanese.
Besides, the startup also plans to further develop its internal cashless payment system BJ Pay.
“Currently users can only use BJ Pay to pay for phone credits top-up, but hopefully in the future, we can use it for all available services,” Harahap explained.
On the other hand, Harahap also hinted plans for Bang Joni to branch into internet-of-things (IoT) sector as he said, “it’ll be cool if we can ask Bang Joni, “Bang, please turn off the AC.” in the future.”
By Vivian Foo, VCNewsNetwork